High-quality women's clothing online?
April 17, 2013 5:12 PM   Subscribe

Help me find some new places to buy clothes...from the couch, in my pajamas.

A number of my go-to clothing items are all reaching decrepitude at the same time, which means it's time to do some shopping. I work in the opposite direction from my city's shopping areas, and I would rather spend my minimal daylight free time with my toddler anyway, so I buy most of my clothes online. I'm in kind of a rut, though--most of my clothes are from Banana Republic, with occasional forays into Ann Taylor and The Outnet's more conservative offerings. I need some suggestions for expanding my internet shopping options.

I can sew, but have pretty much zero time to make clothes for myself. But that makes me sensitive to fabric quality and construction techniques. So things that are made well (within the constraints of ready-to-wear, obviously) are important to me. Name brands are not important.

Shape: I wear a standard US 10/UK 14 (top and bottom). I'm tall but can usually manage with a standard 32" inseam. I have a fairly balanced figure, a little on the busty side but I can usually accommodate all but the slimmest of slim-cut shirts, especially if there's some stretch in the fabric. I have wide calves and kind of a flat butt that together make skinny or narrow-cut pants almost impossible to wear unless the spandex content is really high.

Style: Admittedly kind of boring. I work in the sort of place where you could feasibly wear clogs and carry an NPR tote bag every day, so although I have a few snappy-dressing colleagues, there's not much external pressure to step up my game. (Note: I do not wear clogs or carry an NPR bag, not that there's anything wrong with that.). For work I wear a lot of black/gray/beige 3-season wool trousers with sweaters or button-down shirts, sheath dresses, and cardigans. Out of work I mostly wear trouser-cut jeans with bright colored scoop neck T-shirts or sweaters. I like bright colors and patterns but they need to mix well with neutrals. I would rather project an all-over image of polish and professionalism than have people remember me for my clothes. However, that doesn't mean I don't like stylish pieces, they just need to fit into the overall ensemble. I am hard on my clothes (see above re: toddler) but don't mind hand-washing or dry-cleaning. I will iron if I need to, although my cats like to sleep on the ironing board so that presents its own set of hair-removal issues.

Price: Let's say less than $100 for shirts, less than $200 for trousers/sweaters, and less than $300 for dresses. Less is good, of course, but I'd also love to hear recommendations for more expensive brands that I can keep an eye out for on sale or Ebay. Online vintage is OK too, but I don't have time to troll thrift stores.

Places I've tried: J. Crew is OK but I'm not crazy about their quality. Anthropologie has some nice things but I often find them a little... twee. I will buy button-down shirts from Lands' End but otherwise find their clothes unflattering. I tend to find department store websites a little overwhelming and it's hard to tell what the quality is like on a given piece, but if you have suggestions for particular brands or lines I can use to narrow down the options I'm all ears.

I've looked at some of the fashion blogs (Corporette etc) but I just don't find clothes interesting enough to read them on a regular basis.

Super-special bonus question: We're planning to expand our family soon. Any suggestions for MATERNITY clothing lines that meet the above criteria would be welcomed. Last time I just wore Old Navy and H&M through the pregnancy, and, well, a few nicer pieces would be good this time around.
posted by The Elusive Architeuthis to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (22 answers total) 37 users marked this as a favorite
Are you open to foreign companies at all? Hobbs, Reiss, and LK Bennett fit your price range (at least on sale, depending on the pound) and while I find UK fits tend towards my A-cup, I think you'd be fine. LK and Reiss have limited US options but all of them ship internationally.
posted by jetlagaddict at 5:34 PM on April 17, 2013

I am something of a prep with a bit of English twee (I also buy Anthro selectively, and like the look of J. Crew but not the quality) and I get a fair fraction of my clothes from Boden.

(My parameters: US 14 [sometimes lower in tops and a bit higher in trousers], can skate by on 32" inseams in flats, busty and prefer clothes with stretch.)
posted by immlass at 5:50 PM on April 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

My wife shops at all the stores you mentioned above and in the last year or so has become enamored with Boden for online shopping. They are UK based but are now selling to the US and being from the UK, the styles and sizing is slightly different and the stuff my wife buys ends up looking pretty unique in a good way.
posted by mathowie at 5:51 PM on April 17, 2013

Nthing Boden; they also have a really nice maternity line.
posted by devinemissk at 6:21 PM on April 17, 2013

Elie Tahari? It would run at the high end of your price range but you can find plenty on sale. They do a lot of bright colors and the quality is pretty good. There's DKNY (not DKNY Jeans) - lots of easy to wear jersey pieces and they also make some brights. Lots of department stores online will carry them. I wear a lot of wide leg trousers to work and most of mine are Theory, they're well made and don't wrinkle much. The Emery cut is perfect; the nice thing with these and the Max C cut is that if they fit you, you can just keep buying them in different colors or replace old pairs because they make these exact same cuts every season. The brand does run small so most have to size up (I do) and the trousers are usually around 34" inseam which is great if you're tall.
posted by citron at 6:21 PM on April 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

I love J.Jill and Anthropologie. I like to think I don't dress boring, but I definitely fall within the clog wearing, NPR tote carrying category. (Loved that description.) From your pricing criteria, these may not be the quality you're looking for though.
posted by loveyallaround at 6:24 PM on April 17, 2013

Oops sorry, now I see Anthropologie doesn't really work for you.
posted by loveyallaround at 6:26 PM on April 17, 2013

Well, I was going to suggest Boden, too! But also ASOS is recommended on here pretty frequently, although I've never bought from them. And they have maternity too! Also, Nordstrom carries several lines that I like (like it's Halogen line) and they have free shipping and free returns.
posted by echo0720 at 6:58 PM on April 17, 2013

I love the shopbop sale section. They carry some really good brands, but can be pricey.

Asos is also excellent, and cheaper.
posted by Salamander at 7:03 PM on April 17, 2013

Kate Spade?
Wool Overs?
L.L. Bean Signature?
J. Peterman?

If I needed maternity again I would get stuff I liked and take it to a seamstress to have panels put in the pants or have a too-large too-long shirt taken in in the arms etc; it was, five years ago, a wasteland; even the pricier, decently designed stuff was made from thoroughly disposable artificial fibres. Perhaps there have been improvements since.
posted by kmennie at 7:13 PM on April 17, 2013

I really like eshakti and they do some simple customization, which is cool.
posted by brookeb at 7:19 PM on April 17, 2013

Brooks Brothers Black Fleece. Amazing quality, stuff looks semi-conventional but on second look, is classic with a twist. And beautiful fabrics, workmanship.
posted by Ideefixe at 8:10 PM on April 17, 2013

Maternity: I know they're basically tshirts but I loved my Michael Stars stretchy shirts. (And I love the non-maternity shirts too. They're my favorites.) What I loved about them is that they are long if you have a long torso or get really big--no belly showing.
posted by biscuits at 8:46 PM on April 17, 2013

In terms of online shopping, I think Nordstrom is great. Free shipping, free returns, and wonderful customer service. I often order an item in several colors or sizes if I'm not sure what I need, try them all on in the comfort of my own home, and then mail back the ones I don't want with the prepaid, pre-printed mailing label that's included in the shipment. An item I recently returned got lost in the mail, unfortunately, and Nordstrom credited my account without any hesitation. Also, a pair of gloves I bought my boyfriend developed a hole in the lining after 2-3 wears. Nordstrom allowed me to return them for a full refund even though they'd been worn several times.

In terms of work clothes, you'll find lots of options. I like the Theory pants that citron mentioned, and I own several pencil skirts by Halogen, which echo0720 mentioned - they're well-lined and don't wrinkle like my pencil skirts from J.Crew do. Nordstrom also has a maternity section, although I can't speak to specific brands.
posted by hefeweizen at 8:48 PM on April 17, 2013 [1 favorite]

I must, must, must recommend White House Black Market for interesting, well-made work clothing that ranges from casual to work (much of the inventory can be dressed up or down), as well as a nice collection of under/over clothes. As you can probably guess from the name, much of the stock is black, white, or a mix thereof, but there is always a focus color or two, and the stock changes often--so if, say, garnet isn't your favorite color, wait a week or so and a new color will be the focus (though they also have staple pieces that never go away). They do tall, standard, and short pants by inseam inches, and have a great range of sizes. I've also found a lot of fun jewelry and great shoes there.
posted by tzikeh at 9:07 PM on April 17, 2013

Just missed my edit window -- WHBM's spring focus colors appear to be turquoise, lavender, and fuchsia. But like I said, the stock updates pretty often, so while you can dependably find a great suit jacket or pair of khaki slacks no matter when you shop, you also never know when they might be featuring a really great top in your favorite color. :)
posted by tzikeh at 9:15 PM on April 17, 2013

For maternity I hear lots of good (real-life and in the blogosphere) about Isabella Oliver.
posted by celtalitha at 10:18 PM on April 17, 2013

I think you might really like Madewell. It definitely meets up with your budget. They are related to J. Crew in some way and sort of share their aesthetic, though I would say Madewell skews younger, more casual and less preppy. Lots of classic kinds of pieces, though with some contemporary touch. I cannot afford to buy much from there but I do have a dress from Madewell that is great quality. (I am also currently very much in love with this silk dress that I tried on there last week).
posted by imalaowai at 10:37 PM on April 17, 2013

Admittedly, I'm not sure of the quality, but they seem to meet some of your requirements.
posted by sarajane at 9:55 AM on April 18, 2013

Everlane is pretty great for high-quality basics, especially if you prefer simplicity (which it sounds like you do).
posted by dizziest at 1:48 PM on April 18, 2013

I wouldn't necessarily recommend ASOS's own line - they tend to be very short on me thanks to my height and bustiness. The quality for me is a bit variable as well. Friends of mine love the Curve range, but I'm an 'inbetweenie' so I can only vouch for the standard clothing.

I've liked Monsoon in the past - who ship to the US - though over the past couple of years the fabrics used have become worse quality with no difference to price. A lot of their dresses are empire line or jersey which might be useful for pregnancy? They seem to cut for a bustier figure than a lot of high street stores do.
posted by mippy at 4:27 AM on April 19, 2013

I also really like Shopbop. It tends to be expensive but you can definitely find some nice pieces within the price range you mentioned. Bonus: they have fast, free shipping, free returns, and excellent customer service.

Club Monaco is also good. They have both classics and slightly trendier items. Worth a look for sure.
posted by DayTripper at 8:49 AM on April 20, 2013

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